shawn snyder interview

Science and spirituality intermingle in one man’s off-kilter quest for absolution. In this dark comedy To Dust, a Hasidic cantor by the name of Shmuel (Géza Röhrig) pursues scientific answers to his spiritual question. In Shmuel’s Jewish spirituality, the soul finds peace when it decays into dust. If the body isn’t dust yet, then the soul is still around. In his heart and nightmares, Shmuel senses his wife’s soul will suffer for a long time if her body doesn’t decompose soon enough.

Thus, Shmuel ventures outside his community onto a journey of blasphemy to bring himself peace. Hilariously, he ends up dragging along a community college biology professor (Matthew Broderick) onto his quest. With its dose of orthodoxy, To Dust is an unorthodox film about how far one man goes to take his grieving process into his own hands. Director and writer Shawn Snyder discusses the Jewish influences and how Röhrig and Broderick came to be.

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Green Band Trailer

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?

This week we get secluded on an island with Gerard Butler, try to get away with murder, watch as Ferris Beuller becomes a mensch, see what a paycheck looks like, and try to survive Hannibal Lecter. Read More »

to dust review

Death makes fools of us all because it exposes the limitations of human knowledge. We may have strong beliefs about what happens after our final breath, but none among us truly knows what happens. That uncertainty can gnaw away at those left behind with little more than the memory and the body of the recently departed.

In To Dust, first-time feature director Shawn Snyder locates the tragedy in pining for such answers but also digs a little deeper for a truly revelatory find. Because of – and remarkably, not in spite of – the weighty material he deals with, he finds the comedy in the situation. The lengths to which devastated widower Shmuel (Géza Röhrig) goes to achieve the sense of finality that he cannot locate within his religious community eventually reaches the point of absurdity. We don’t laugh at him; we laugh with him because the Grim Reaper could come knocking at one of our own loved ones’ doors someday soon.

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